Mar 3, 2024 - Technology

Axios Explains: How to use ChatGPT, Copilot and Gemini AI tools

Illustration of a book robot

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Today's leading chatbots for the everyday user — OpenAI's ChatGPT, Microsoft's Copilot and Google's Gemini — are all best approached as tutors or assistants rather than information desks.

Why it matters: Getting started using any of these tools is easy, but knowing when and how to get the best results from them can still be tricky.

The big picture: All three of these chatbots are designed to create, edit and summarize content.

  • ChatGPT works well for most tasks. Google's Gemini has access to more timely and updated information and Copilot is best for work tasks.
  • Chatbots can help you write your resume, create a basic recipe with the ingredients you have in your fridge, summarize long articles, turn text into presentations, or create itineraries for vacations.
  • They're also great for sparking creativity or combatting writers block. Some people even use them to help communicate with their kids.

Between the lines: Most free versions of these chatbots are good enough. But if you want to take advantage of more features, you can subscribe to any of them for around $20 per month.

  • Copilot is ChatGPT, but with access to all the data in your calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings, and everything else that's known as your Microsoft Graph (if you use Microsoft 365).
  • Gemini Advanced will let you summarize content or create new content from your Gmail, Google docs, and your Google Drive. You can try it free for two months.
  • While ChatGPT has its own GPT store, Copilot lets you integrate plug-ins from third-parties like Shopify, OpenTable, or Kayak, while Gemini allows you to use extensions like Google Flights and Google Hotels.

How it works: You can access ChatGPT, Copilot, and Gemini on the web.

  • ChatGPT and Copilot both have free iPhone and Android apps, but Google's Gemini is only available as an app on Android. You can access Gemini on iOS through the Google app by tapping the Gemini icon.
  • The request you make or question you ask Copilot, Gemini, or ChatGPT is called a prompt.
  • Prompts should be specific and can include requests for responses in a particular tone, a certain audience, or even a specific number of words.
  • For example, "Explain the theory of relativity to me in 100 words. Act as a friendly scientist and answer as if I'm ten years old."

Fun fact: Studies have shown that you'll get better results if you're polite.

Reality check: All current generative AI chatbots are prone to producing inaccuracies and historical untruths, known as "hallucinating."

  • The web has been full of misinformation since its inception, but search engine algorithms have been getting progressively better about showing us more reliable sources.
  • Chatbots are setting us back a few steps since by their very nature they're designed to make stuff up.
  • The confidence with which these chatbots will deliver misinformation among other more reliable information can be disconcerting.
  • Any prompts you enter could potentially be used to train these chatbots, which means you should be extra careful with sensitive personal details and confidential work information. If you pay to subscribe, some services will do more to respect your privacy. Google says your personal content from Workspace won't be used to train Gemini's model or viewed by human reviewers even in the free version.

What's next: Soon AI will not only be able to answer questions and create or summarize content, but it will also be able to act on your behalf — which is both exciting and terrifying.

Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify that Gemini is available in the Google app on iOS.

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